Members of the Plymouth Common Council unanimously approved a resolution confirming support for five READI Projects that will advance to the application process during their meeting Monday evening.
City Attorney Sean Surrisi discussed each project proposal. The first is the Montgomery Ward Commerce Center at 214 North Michigan Street, formerly Treats for Her or the Pilot News. The property is owned by AQM Properties LLC which is Jeremy and Amanda Price. The proposal is for an entrepreneur center that was initially proposed in Stellar for the Old Fire House. Surrisi said Marshall County Economic Development Corp. and Lifelong Learning Network are looking at using a portion of the building.
The City Attorney told the City Council in 2019 they pledged $240,000 toward the Stellar Project at the Old Fire House Entrepreneur Center but those funds were not expended. This project is estimated at $2.5 million, and the primary funding source would be the Plymouth Redevelopment Commission. Kevin Berger from Easterday Construction would be the proposed developer for the project. The city’s share is approximately $600,000.
Councilman Jeff Houin asked about the location. He wanted to know what other locations were considered and why this building was chosen. He said this is one of the most valuable pieces of property in the downtown area and pays approximately $6,000 in property taxes annually.
Surrisi said the only other location considered was the Old Fire House but with a change in leadership at MCEDC it was deemed the building was too small.
Houin was concerned about non-profits being in the structure and not paying taxes. He didn’t like the idea of losing that tax revenue and felt another location would be better. Councilman Houin said he fully supports the project but feels another location might be better.
The second project proposed is the Water Street Townhomes in the parking lot at the intersection of Garro and Water Streets. The project proposes 12 townhomes with 4 units being 3 bedrooms and 8 units being 2 bedrooms. The city attorney said the project is planned to acquire the remaining two homes on the block and would create more parking even though they will be using a portion of the parking lot for the townhomes. Currently, there are 30 parking spaces and with the purchase of the other two residential properties, the parking area will expand to 50 spaces. There is also a mixed-use unit planned for the southernmost unit.
Brent Martin said, “Inspired in large part because River Park Square. You have a beautiful downtown park right there and here is a chance to increase some of the affordable housing with workforce housing in proximity to the downtown.” The public share of this project would be about $800,000 and would come from the Redevelopment Commission.
The third project proposed for the READI Grant application process is the Harrison Street Trail. This wasn’t originally part of the Stellar application but when INDOT decided they couldn’t fund the park at Michigan and Jefferson there was $160,000 set aside for the project.
It was decided to change the INDOT project to a trail from Packard Woods to the Conservation Club House possibly using Harrison Street. Surrisi said they learned that INDOT doesn’t have as much funding available, so it was pulled from the Stellar project too.
The Complete Streets Committee is supportive of this project and may submit it in the regular INDOT grant cycle.
Funding for this project is a little more complicated because there is no private funding. They plan to seek $120,000 from READI for the project and fund the remaining $480,000 locally or by applying for grants to cover the costs.
The fourth project is an art project on the wall in the LaPorte Street parking lot. A professional mural is proposed and would be completed on the building owned by Matt and Alicia Davis.
Anna Kietzman from Heartland Artist Galley said they would seek competitive submissions from professional muralists to create a design and the public would assist in determining the final design.
Architect Brent Martin said there would be work done to the wall of the building getting it ready for the mural with a special finish to give them a smooth canvas to work on. He also said the Davis family has signed a letter of support and contributed toward the project. The estimated total cost is $116,000.
Surrisi said they anticipate applying for a $50,000 T-Mobile Hometown Grant which is a community development grant for this project and other local grants to assist with the project. There would be about $23,000 that would be targeted as the city contribution.
The final READI Grant application project is through Habitat. Dean Byers and Brent Martin explained the project that has been discussed for several years. Initially, the plan was to build 10news homes with 4 in Plymouth, 3 in Argos, and 3 in Bourbon but the IHCDA grant wasn’t large enough, so they were able to reduce it to 7 homes. The first bids on the project came in much higher than expected and there were no bids during the second bid session due to the face of difficulty in obtaining construction materials.
This housing project is on Garro Street near the Neighborhood Center and would create three homes using READI Grant funds instead of the IHCDA.
These homes would be workforce housing projects and the city’s share would be $10,000 per home or $30,000 in total.
Martin said the homes would have a mortgage of around $190,000. There would be income eligibility to qualify for the homes which would be about 1200 square feet, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms.
The Plymouth Common Council unanimously approved a resolution of support for all the READI Grant applications proposed.
WTCA did learn that the Brewery proposed for the old NIPSCO building by Tim Harman was pulled from the READI Grant application project although Harman does plans to continue with the project and work with the city on it.